Best 1911 Frames For The Money (2020 Review)

Maybe you’re building a new 1911, or your current firearm is in dire need of an upgrade of its skeleton: the frame.

Whatever your need, we can help find you the best 1911 frames on the market that are also affordable enough to not break the bank. We’ll explain everything there is to know about 1911 frames and how you can tell good picks from wastes of time.

Comparison Chart of the Best 1911 Frames

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Caspian - 1911 Recon Receiver Carbon, Smooth

  • Best Overall
  • Carbon Steel Finish
  • Government Model
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Fusion Firearms - 1911 Lower Frame Assembly

  • Commander-Type
  • Matte Black Finish
  • Best for the Money
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Brownells - 1911 Government Model Frame

  • Best Budget Pick
  • Government-Type
  • Carbon or Stainless Steel Finish
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Caspian - 1911 Officer Receiver Un-ramped, Carbon, Smooth

  • Officer-Type
  • Carbon Finish
  • Frame is heat-treated and extremely durable
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Fusion Firearms - 1911 Lower Frame Assembly-officers/Micro

  • Officer-Type
  • Matte Black Finish
  • Frame is fully assembled and offers a user-friendly build
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Upgrading vs. New Builds – What You Need to Know

When it comes to 1911 frames, you can decide to do two things with them; start a new 1911 build or upgrade your existing firearm. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, but you’ll have to decide for yourself which of the two is more convenient for you.

Upgrading​

If you choose to upgrade your 1911 frame, right off the bat you can expect a decent amount of work. Because of the complicated process surrounding such an in-depth change to your firearm’s characteristics, you should visit a gunsmith if you’re not totally confident in your workshop and smithing skills yourself. In addition, an upgrade may require different parts than are currently integrated with your original 1911.

Therefore, it’s important that you make sure you have all the springs, screws, and smaller pieces you might need before enacting an upgrade. You may need to buy a 1911 parts kit in addition to a totally new 1911 frame.

New Build

On the other hand, you can build a new 1911. While this will likely be more expensive overall than simply upgrading the frame, you’ll be able to make sure that everything works smoothly and add customizations and additions in the process of the build. This might be a more worthwhile choice if your 1911’s other aspects, such as the slide or barrel, need replacing soon anyway. You can sometimes save time by building an entirely new firearm.

How to Choose the Best 1911 Frame

Before we look at our favorite 1911 frames for the money, let’s examine some critical factors to keep in mind as we shop. These are aspects that will directly affect the 1911’s performance, so they’re important to remember.

Material​

Most frames are made from some kind of steel metal, such as stainless steel. However, you might want one with a different kind of material build, so check to see what each offering advertises. Certain frames have titanium or aluminum compositions to change weight or balance. You should also make sure that whatever material you choose works with your existing pieces if you’re upgrading.

Color​

This is a personal preference, but most people like their weapons to look good. Double check the color before you buy so that it meshes with the rest of the 1911 parts. In this way, you’ll end up with a cohesive, good-looking gun instead of a cobbled-together custom job that’s kind of janky in appearance.

Caspian - 1911 Recon Receiver Carbon, Smooth

Style​

This refers to the machined shape of the frame. Some are made to government specs, meaning that they’ll look like the traditional weapons favored by law enforcement officers or the military. Others look simpler or even quite different and unique. The difference is largely aesthetic and totally up to you.

Size​

Finally, make sure your frame’s size meshes with your other pieces and that it’s going to be a comfortable fit in your hand when all is said and done. A frame that’s too big for the other pieces is no good at all.

Quick Take - The Best 1911 Frames

Review of the Best 1911 Frames

The following is a list of the best 1911 frames that are currently on the market. As you take a look at the features and characteristics, make a decision on which ones will be best for you and which ones may be considered “dealbreakers” for you. Let’s start off with the first choice on our list:

Now that we have all of the technical considerations memorized, let’s start looking at the best 1911 frames on the market today.

Pros

  • Heat Treated
  • Accessory Rail Included
  • Choose Between Stainless Steel or Carbon

Cons

  • Bland Color

What Recent Buyers Report

New users were very happy with the sturdiness and the structural integrity of this frame. They said it was easy to install and was well-fit for a good number of 1911 models. One user said that it does a good job withstanding consistent amounts of firing power. Not to mention, it’s very impossible to wear it down in extensive shooting sessions. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you are looking for a frame that will be proven to last you a long time, then this might be what you need. These frames are heat-treated and undergo so many tests before they even hit the market. So if you come across something that passes quality tests with flying colors, you know it’s that dang good. Plus, it’s a frame that can accept various sights that you might plan on installing in the not so distance future.

The Caspian is a great example of a standard-issue government type of frame for a 1911. It’s built with a lot of great functionality, such as a heat treatment over its surface that will allow it to resist heat and shock beyond that of standard offerings. It can also be modified to be either cast from carbon or stainless steel. If you are allergic to certain metals, stainless steel is the way to go.

It also has an accessory rail that makes setting up attachments or other modifiers very easy. This product is sized and machined with perfection to duplicate the look and feel of the classic, government-style frames that you can see in film or on real-life law enforcement officers.

This is large enough that your gunsmith can set a tight slide at its top, permitting exceptional performance. The color is a bit bland, so if you like a darker finish you’ll likely want to put some paint on it before you start the integration process.

Altogether, though, this is an excellent product that’s perfect for most customer 1911 builds or repair jobs. The government-style is most popular for a reason, after all!

Who Will Use This Most

If you are looking for a lightweight, super solid frame that will be great for overall support and even opening the door to some customization opportunities, then you may want to consider this frame as your go-to option. You’ll install this in a matter of minutes and turn your pistol into a high-quality force to be reckoned with. 

Bottom Line

The Caspian 1911 Recon Receiver is one of the best quality frames that you’ll find on the market for the purpose of adding on a frame of high quality that will last you a long time. This will be great for when you plan on using your pistol for the long term. It can withstand constant use for years or even decades. That’s how strong it is. 

This is a great government-type frame that lets you choose between two types of finishes. It comes with a handy accessory rail for adding attachments later on.

Pros

  • Undercut Trigger Guard
  • Comes With Many Screws Necessary
  • Modern Design With the Extended Thumb Safety

Cons

  • A Little Pricey

What Recent Buyers Report

This was a great frame for anyone looking to make a complete upgrade to the lower half of their pistols. The install didn’t take too long and it improved the grip and allowed for more solid trigger protection for those who used their 1911 for quite some time. This was a great frame for those looking for a more “plug and play” type of install rather than find something that would make the installation more complicated.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This frame doesn’t cover the entire frame. But it does cover the bottom half that supports the barrel, the trigger, and the grip. So if you want a solid frame that will handle some of your most vital parts of your 1911 pistol, then you may want to consider purchasing this bad boy and install it the moment it reaches your doorstep. By the time you install this, you’ll be quite pleased with how much of an improvement you can get just by installing a solid frame. 

The Fusion frame is made in the commander-style, so it’s an intermediate between the lighter, smaller officer-type and the heavier, official government-type. This item is machined from a solid bar and heat treated to permit excessive use and rapid firing without suffering any kind of a performance drop. It has a number of other features that make it worth your time and money.

The thumb safety has been extended to improve quick switching, which is an important consideration in tactical shooting situations. There’s an undercut trigger guard and many of the screws and smaller pieces you need to finish installing this frame on a 1911 are already included in their places.

This can rapidly speed up either a total 1911 build or a repair job, particularly if you are going from one type or size of frame to another. The price is a bit high, but the value you get out of the purchase is phenomenal. We feel that this frame is well worth the cost; it’s well-made and has a laundry list of great perks to make it worth your while.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great frame for anyone who wants to install something that is sturdy but will not add on any weight to your pistol. You may find frames made from different materials and will weigh differently than others. But you’ll be quite happy with this one for a number of reasons. We’d be shocked if you didn’t see an improvement in your grip than anything else. 

Bottom Line

If you want a frame that is superior in quality and will definitely stand out as the go-to option for anyone looking to provide excellent support for their 1911 pistols, then you may want to consider giving this frame a try. It will definitely give you a few good improvements compared to your current frame.

Although it’s a bit pricey, this commander frame has everything you need to finish installation right away. It comes with a number of extra features, such as a larger thumb safety and undercut trigger guard.

Pros

  • Very Durable
  • Precision-Machined Holes
  • Oversized Rails for Custom Fitting Slides

Cons

  • Gunsmith Definitely Required

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the new users were utilizing their 1911 for concealed carry and tactical purposes. Plus, it was the closest thing they could find to a frame that was best fit for government-issued 1911 pistols. So far, they had no complaints about the install and the overall quality. It was solid, very difficult to wear, and didn’t heat up in the slightest after various extended periods of shooting. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is made from corrosion-resistant 4140 steel. So you know it will be considered one of the best frames in the business when it comes to resisting damage. So if the quality is high atop your list of priorities, then you know that this frame will be great for your 1911 pistol. 

The Brownells frame is a government model that looks as tough and capable as it really is. It’s all yours for a very decent price, too, lower than many other competitor offerings on the same marketplace. You can choose between carbon steel or stainless steel finishes depending on your preference or allergenic needs.

Either way, it is heat-treated to extend its lifespan and performance even when you’re firing a lot of shots in a short period of time. The holes for screws have been precision-machined to make sure that any installation is trouble-free and as easy as possible. An oversized rail will allow a gunsmith to install a slide for a very tight fit, further improving your results once installation is complete.

Due to its extreme precision-machining and durability, it’s highly recommended that you only install this frame with the help of a talented gunsmith. However, given all of the excellence it's sure to bestow upon your 1911, this is a minor flaw for a very affordable piece of equipment.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be an excellent choice for most of the 1911 users that are concealed carry users or those who are in law enforcement or the military who still rely on this pistol as their trusty sidearm. Regardless, it’s a frame that is built to last and is tough as our military might itself

Bottom Line

The Brownells 1911 Government Model Frame is a frame that is super strong and will be reliable for most concealed carry users for years and decades to come. This will considerably improve your grip and will even handle so many shots no matter how many times you pull the trigger. You can get improved quality in minutes with a frame like this.

It’s an excellent, affordable option in the government-style with machined holes to promote easy installation with the precise help of a gunsmith. The rails are oversized to allow for a tight slide fit further in the process.

Pros

  • Heat-Treated
  • Small and Compact
  • Precision Cast From Either Carbon or Stainless Steel

Cons

  • Dull Color

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the new users were those who were law enforcement officers that rely on their 1911 pistols for everyday use (both on-duty and off-duty). They said it didn’t take them long to install this. Plus, it didn’t add any additional weight to the pistols. Overall, the new users say that it allowed for better control (leading to better accuracy) and more shock absorbency. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Once again, we take another look at a frame for the 1911 that will stand out as a high-quality option for those who hold it to a higher standard. And it’s also another one of those factory tested frames that guarantee that it won’t fall apart on you nor will it ever in this lifetime. If you are looking for a law enforcement grade frame for your 1911 pistol that will give you years of faithful and reliable service, this might be what you are looking for. 

The Caspian is an officer-type of frame, so this makes it among the smallest on our list. You’ll find that this type is great if you’re making a 1911 that you intend to conceal carry, as the smaller size will let it fit beneath clothes more effectively. It’s still quite durable and heat-treated to promote high performance as its used.

You can pick between a carbon steel or stainless steel finish, but the color is a bit dull either way, so you’ll probably want to paint it at some point in the creation or repair process. The rails are oversized to allow for tight fitting of a slide once all the other necessary pieces are in place, and it’s all very affordable for your wallet, too.

While officer frames aren’t as common as the other two styles, we feel that they have a definite place in the market and for a particular niche of 1911 users. If you find that an officer option is right for you, this is one of the best you can pick from any market.

Who Will Use This Most

If superior quality and looking for a frame that is perfect for the Officer sized 1911 pistols, then this is probably the only frame that can cut the mustard. You will be able to install this quickly and be able to give it a whirl at the range. Don’t be surprised if you are able to get a few good benefits out of it other than a pistol that is lightweight and able to withstand so many shots. Why not an increase in grip and control, which leads to better accuracy and precise shooting. 

Bottom Line

The 1911 Officer Receiver is without a doubt one of the best frames proven to handle 1911 Officer sized models. This will never fall apart on you nor will it last you only a couple years. This is the frame that once you tack it on to your pistol, it’s there to stay for good. Good luck trying to get it damaged. 

This is one of the best officer frames on the market. It’s affordable and you can choose between two types of finishes. The color will need to be painted over in most cases.

Pros

  • Heat-Treated
  • Comes With Needed Screws
  • Undercut Trigger Guard and Extended Safety

Cons

  • A Little Pricey

What Recent Buyers Report

This was a great fit for those who own an Officer sized version of the 1911. As expected, they were happy with the lightness and the sturdiness of the frame. The install was simple and it was more of a “plug and play” kind of design compared to most frames that were available on the market. So far, the new users say that it was great for outdoor applications and could withstand any kind of weather. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you want a frame that can be hard as a rock, then this could be the one you choose for your 1911 Officer pistol. You know that it will last you quite a long time. And it won’t take on any bumps and bangs (or whatever else). If you want something that will be hard to dent, scratch, or damage this frame will definitely give you the advantage over any oversized or cheap and flimsy frame that you’d find on the market. 

This Fusion frame is an officer-type, just like the previous one we looked at. Whereas the last product was missing the screws necessary for completion, this frame includes the needed pieces with your purchase. This does drive the price up a bit, somewhat, but it might be worthwhile since it means you don’t have to track down those screws or look in your workshop.

This product is finished with a matte black oxide, which helps protect the heat treatment it’s received. It is also sturdy and compact, with an undercut trigger guard and an extended safety that’s even more effective due to the overall smaller size. The safety is easier to reach than on a commander or government frame.

Because of its put-together status, it’s perfect for completing a 1911 build or repairing a 1911 if you’re replacing another officer-type product. The fact that it comes with everything you need for the frame portion of a build is likely to save you time and money in the long run, which further justifies its cost in our eyes.

Who Will Use This Most

This frame is another choice for those who own an Officer 1911 pistol. If you want something that will be just for the lower half of your pistol, then you should look no further. This will do a good job of protecting and supporting the lower half of your pistol if and whenever you need something that will do a better job than a factory default. This frame is guaranteed to last longer and never wear down.

Bottom Line

The Fusion Firearms 1911 Lower Frame Assembly is the best lower that you can find for a 1911 pistol that is different from standard. This frame will certainly give you a better chance at prolonging the overall lifetime of your pistol since it’s durable and very lightweight. And at the end of the day, it’s you that will have better control over your 1911. 

This Fusion frame is a great example of an officer-style piece. It’s finished with a matte black oxide to promote style as well as preserve the function of the gun as it’s heated and used over time. It comes with all the screws and smaller pieces necessary to begin installation right away.

Types of 1911 Frames

There are three main types of 1911 frames you can choose from. We’ll overview these each individually so you can decide which you like the best for yourself.

Officer

These frames are around 3.5 inches long and are usually considered to be “compact”. Most of the parts that fit onto an officer-style product can’t be interchanged with other frames due to the size difference. This kind takes smaller magazine sizes, but might be a really great pick for concealed carry if you have the proper permit.

Commander

These are around 4.25 inches long from the barrel all the way through. It’s a little smaller than the government model and can take normal magazine sizes, as well as a lot of different attachments. Because of its size, it’s often considered an intermediate choice between officer and government frame types.

Government

These are 5” long, generally speaking, and their parts can be interchanged with commander-model frames. These take normal-sized magazines and can accommodate all of the attachments you might be considering. A lot of people like this style because it replicates the gun seen in pictures and movies most often.

Conclusion

With everything in this guide, you should be all set to finish your 1911 build or repair your tried-and-true sidearm. The right frame means everything to the operation and success of your gun, so make sure that you’ve taken your time and selected the right product before you begin gunsmithing. Thanks for reading!

People Also Ask

The following is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the 1911. This should serve as a guide so you are able to get a better understanding of how they work (including the accessories associated with them). Here are the following questions:

What Makes a Pistol a 1911?

A 1911 pistol is based on some features and characteristics that make it somewhat unique compared to other pistols. One unique feature of the 1911 is the moving link that can be found at the bottom of the chamber. If you fire the pistol, you’ll notice the slide moving back at a short length. Also, 1911 pistols will always be a single-action pistol (which means you never have to cock the hammer back).

Does The US Military Still Use The 1911?

Not since 1986. The 1911 was since replaced by the Beretta M 9 9mm pistol as the standard sidearm. However, some military personnel still use the1911 pistol as a sidearm (based on personal choice) thus not making it completely phased out. 

What 1911 Is Closest To The Original?

The closest model that you can find to the original 1911 is the Rock Standard full-sized pistol. Not only is it the closest that you can get to the original, but it’s also actually one of the more affordable 1911 pistols on the market today. 

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